The decade is dead, long live the decade!

This month the 21st century ends its troublesome teenage years, the street art brat certainly matured and changed. In terms of becoming a phenomenon accepted by the public, the media and importantly the art market, the past decade actually makes up about half of street art’s life to date and Graffoto is delighted to have been around to make a bit of a hash of pontificating about it.

So, Graffoto is going to look back over the past decade in a series of posts looking at the trends, the important milestones and key influences and along the way remind ourselves some of the brilliant art spotted over the past 10 years.

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Dran, Brusk DMV 2010

This carefree disinterment up of old memories will be filtered through the limited scope of Graffoto’s experiences, we can’t account for shit that happened behind our back can we? So no whinging about us missing your epoch defining single layer stencil or that one day estate agent sponsored pop-up in Clerkenwell in front of an invited audience of friends, sycophants and mailing list collectors. This is what we saw, remember and think was noteworthy.

Herakut Work In Progress 2010
Herakut in action, 2010

The cunning plan is there is no plan, we have no idea what we will cover or how many posts there will be which is rather liberating but remember, if you are looking for a particular idiosyncratic ephemeral insane installation, stunning art work or an artist you remember, it might be relevant in more than one place but it will only get one mench, so stay tuned and read the whole damn lot. One thing that will be done by design is that anything that is worth raving about this year will feature in a specific post about the past 12 months and may or may not feature in other posts.

Perhaps a good way to kick off this crazy scheme is too look back where things were in 2010. From that year zero we can perhaps see how much things have kicked on since. Some pretty mental things happened at the very start of the decade. Absolute top bracket American artists like Swoon were still hitting Shoreditch, both on the streets and the galleries. We really do not have that so much these days.

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Swoon, Shoreditch 2010

By the way, check those spotless walls, that’s Swoon taking a spot without permission. As the decade ends that spot is the curated, funded, controlled preserve of appointed anointed artists, sometimes painting for the first time.

Type (Rest In Peace), Gold Peg and Mighty Mo ruled the rooftops.


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GoldPeg, Mighty Mo also feat Tek 33 and Shepard Fairey
(See also Burning Candy “Getting high…” and Shepard Fairey “Facing The Giant”)

Burning Candy were still an awesome 9-some,

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Sweet Toof, CEPT, DScreet, Tek 33

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Sweet Toof, Mighty Mo, Cept, Cyclops, Gold Peg

Banksy had a prolific year that started off with him coming second best to Robbo then saw him add to his London street collection with “Choose Your Weapon” in Southwark and his ode to office workers’ anarchy “London Calling” just outside the City. Banksy’s major 2010 triumph was the release of feature length film Exit Through The Gift Shop which got worldwide acclaim, an Oscar nomination and billboard hijackings as well as actual proper paid for adverts.

King Robbo
Robbo, Banksy forced collaboration 25 Dec 2009, read Banksy vs Robbo Checkmate – Graffoto’s all-time most read post).  This shot shows the second iteration when Robbo returned to change it back from “Fucking Robbo”

Exit Through The Gift Shop Portobello Road fire Extinguisher billboard hijacking, March 2010

Banksy Exit Through The Gift Shop
Exit Through The Gift Shop – ironic advertising

Banksy Choose Your Weapon
Bansky Choose Your Weapon

Banksy London Calling
Banksy London Calling

Hackney Wick was still had an art community rather than a grid of souless condos.

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Busk, Snoe

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Temp32, Prop, Tek13

The future Nomadic Community Gardens plot was still a zealously guarded network rail property.

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Kewl, Klepto, Type (RIP), Nims, Hefs, Rigor

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Fensa, Kewl, Sickboy et al

Eine did his lower case alphabet on Middlesex street, followed shortly after by then British Prime Minster David Cameron giving an EINE canvas to Obama (read about both here)

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The Pit closed:

Zomby, Prize, Func, Skam, Sick December 2010

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Catch, Kilo, Odisy, Plot, Skam, Slam, Trev, Zia December 2010

Steve Lazarides was enjoying his post Banksy anti-establishment gallery career and was staging as the amazing Hells Half Acre in the tunnels and caverns next to Leake St. The unconventional was still novel.

Paul Insect & Antony Micallef, “Hells Half Acre” 2010

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Vhils, Antony Micallef “Hells Half Acre” 2010

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Conor Harrington, “Hells Half Acre” 2010

Stik was truly hitting his stride.

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Stik, Bethnal Green Road

Other big names visiting included Anthony Lister (Aus), Case Maclaim (Ger), Jef Aerosol (Fr), Escif.

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Anthony Lister

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Jef Aerosol


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Case Maclaim

Ludo was called Natures Revenge.

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Awesome murals were getting painted in places where now spraypainted adverts rule:

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Horfe, Roid

Plenty of small, weird and wonderful things happened if you cared to look closely.

Issac Cordal, Sclater St

Beyond the narrow limits of our own experience perhaps the stand out street art happening of 2010 was NY’s Underbelly project – street art underground. Street artists had been spending the previous year or so diving into obscure and even dangerous tunnels in New York to illegally create secret art in a truly derelict subway station. Arranged by a noted NY stencillist operating under the Workhorse pseudonym and involving genuinely first class street art stars this was one of those moments when street art proved it still had the ability to cause breathtaking surprise and genuine shock and also register significantly on an international scale beyond the cadre of hardcore afficionados.   It became part of the collective vicarious expeience through stunning recording by a privileged glitterati of photographers and bloggers – stand up Wallkandy, Luna Park  Martha Cooper and RJ.

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Sane Smith – photo Ian Cox

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Revok, Cease – photo Luna Park

We thought Shoreditch was poncified by 2010, looking back there were actually still plenty of properties which were still pre-refurbishment, plenty of neglected walls, there were still shitholes on Redchurch Street and there were still places where artists actually could still live.

INSA in action on Redchurch St, October 2010

As we start the task of nailing down the lid on the second decade of the twenty-first Century, this 10 year overdue look back at what was going on in the world of street art as we experienced it in 2010 will hopefully be the start of a celebration of some of the highlights, dramas and possibly even failures of street art’s growing pains. Stay tuned.

All photos Dave Stuart except where noted:

Luna Park instagram

Wallkandy instagram

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